For the first time in almost 70 years, the Lincolnton area will soon be without a John Deere dealer. After Friday, Greenline Turf & Tractor in Iron Station will no longer be open for business.
Owner Milton Sigmon is set to retire after opening the store, which he said is currently the only one in the area that sells John Deere tractors, 23 years ago.
â€œLincolnton has always had a John Deere store as far as I can remember,â€ he said.
Over the years, however, he noted that the region has shifted from being predominantly a farming area to what it is today, with a growing population around Lake Norman. He added that he has had to adapt and change the products he sells accordingly.
For instance, he used to be more of an agricultural dealer but has been selling more construction equipment, compact tractors and lawn products in recent years.
â€œThere are not enough farmers left,â€ he added.
Sigmon grew up on a dairy farm in Lincoln County at a time when there were 55 local Grade A dairies. Today, there are only four or five.
â€œThat shows you what weâ€™re faced with,â€ he said.
But he is quick to point out that â€œbusiness is greatâ€ and that he is â€œso blessedâ€ it has been profitable.
â€œItâ€™s not a matter of not making sales,â€ he noted. â€œItâ€™s just the right time.â€
Sigmon will be 69 years old in January, and he is looking forward to getting to spend more time with his grandchildren. He also plans to do some mission work with his wife, Shirley, while making use of some rental property, as well. Additionally, for the first time in quite a while, he hopes to experience â€œwhat itâ€™s like to farm during daylight hours.â€
â€œI finally made myself realize that itâ€™s time to not be here,â€ he said.
He admits he felt an obligation to keep serving and supplying his loyal customers, adding that he has an overwhelming sense of gratitude for them.
Nonetheless, his storeâ€™s absence will be felt. Many of his customers came to him from surrounding areas, such as Newton, Hickory, Shelby and Gastonia. Now, many of them will have to travel a bit farther to find similar lines of equipment.
In the last few weeks, he has been flooded with business from farmers looking to stock up on parts. With goods currently discounted, he said he has sold so much that there are not many items left.
Though the store will close for good on Friday, Sigmon said his employees will continue working through January or February packaging up remaining parts to be sent back to John Deere. There will also be an auction in March of various office supplies and shelving left behind.
Sigmon noted that running Greenline Turf & Tractor was â€œone of those things in life that just happened.â€
â€œThe opportunity presented itself,â€ he added, later saying he wished others could feel as blessed as heâ€™s been.
But he knows the secret to his success.
â€œIf you treat others correctly, business will take care of itself,â€ said Sigmon.